Gift a Horse Book

As the holidays draw near, consider giving a book to your horsey friends. And you can always add an extra copy for yourself to the cart.

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Horse books claim their place in tween and teen personal libraries, but what happens when horse girls become women? Is the “horse bug” cured, or does it go into remission? If you’re looking for the perfect gift idea for the horsewomen in your life or are hungry for a horse book that retraces your own youth and childhood with an adult eye and perspective, take a look at the following three reads.

Dark Horses and Black Beauties: Animals, Women, a Passion

Horse Book for a Gift - Dark Horses and Black BeautiesDark Horses and Black Beauties: Animals, Women, and Passion resonates in its timelessness and holds secrets and gifts to last a lifetime. Opening the cover of Melissa Holbrook Pierson’s book is like discovering a secret chest in your grandmother’s attic. Antique photos sprinkled throughout the text excavate reasons why little girls worldwide fall under the spell of the horse.

Breyer horse collections pave the way to devouring books about the horse’s anatomy, evolution and history, dominating the lives of those obsessed with all things equine. Most horse owners in the United States and the United Kingdom continue to be female.

Influences of culture, economics, and relationships may blunt the fixation—but not the love of the horse itself.

Skillfully intertwining memoir, history, sociology, psychology and poetry, Pierson ruminates on why so many women connect with the horse. Her disclosure of her own return to riding and recapturing her relationship with the horse ignites the reader’s enthusiasm for this powerful bond that has spanned centuries.

How do the feminine and the equine fall naturally into partnership? What is it about the horse that bolsters a woman’s self-confidence and empowerment? Pierson’s questions resurrect memory in the reader and offer a peaceful contemplation about one’s passion for the horse.

Published in 2001. Available in paperback on Amazon for $19.95

Wild Ride Home: Love, Loss, and a Little White Horse, a Family Memoir

Horse Book as a Gift - Wild Ride HomeBooks like Black Beauty place the horse in the center of the narrative, but in others, it serves as the framework for the writer to tell their own story. In Christine Hemp’s memoir, Wild Ride Home: Love, Loss, and a Little White Horse, a feisty Arabian named Buddy provides the structure for her to unwind her story of love, loss, illness and home.

Hemp, a celebrated poet and teacher, recounts how her calm, settled life on a New Mexico ranch and her love for Trey, a Scottish fly fisherman, unravels. Abandoning the ranch, her fiancé, and the desert life she always wanted turns out to be only the first blow to Hemp’s life. Two miscarriages and a rising threat of violence forces Hemp to flee back home to the Olympic peninsula.

Optimism and humor have always defined the Hemp family. Hemp believes that home should repair her damaged soul. Instead, Hemp realizes that her mother, the emotional stalwart of the family, is on her own journey with Alzheimer’s disease, living in another country for which no one has a passport.

Buddy enters Hemp’s life as her mother begins to exit. Owned by a neighbor, Buddy has shadows of his own history to overcome. With the help of a ground trainer, Hemp and Buddy face their fears and learn to trust each other and the future.

Though Hemp’s life continues to swerve between love and illness, Buddy opens a window to a deeper understanding of the world. In the end, Hemp concludes, “Maybe this is actually what we’re called upon to do in this little life: find home in the most elemental place possible, our own skin.”

Published Nov. 2, 2021. Available in paperback on Amazon for $16.99

Horse Girls: Recovering, Aspiring, and Devoted Riders Redefine the Iconic Bond

Horse Girls BookEditor Halimah Marcus and 14 writers with a riding past excavate not only the meaning of the phrase “horse girl,” but ask bold questions about privilege, race, cultural identity, and resolution. In Horse Girls: Recovering, Aspiring, and Devoted Riders Redefine the Iconic Bond, the stereotypical image of a “horse girl”—white, rich, thin, beautiful, and straight—disintegrates on the page.

Emerging writers like Braudie Blais-Billie sit side by side with Pulitzer-prize winners like Jane Smiley. Horse Girls reframes the narrative about the relationship between girls and horses with a complexity that meets the reality of this time in history.

Marginalization in the equine world features prominently. Black barrel racer Sarah Enelow-Snyder opines about growing up in Spicewood, Texas, and unveils not only race-based bullying in the classroom that forced her into a home-schooling alternative, but also a father who values a blue ribbon as a path to self-worth.

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim writes about how colonialist influences in horse culture in Pakistan cast a permanent shadow on her relationship with Shakoor, a ghoray wala (horseman) hired to lead the writer, her brother, and cousins along the trails of Nathiagali, a small holiday community. Ibrahim came of age entrenched in an affluent neighborhood of lawyers, engineers, and military colonels. Still, she shuttled between upper-class guilt and a deep desire to bridge the gap of class and the stench of colonialization.

The thought-provoking horse book by Blais-Billie, a woman of Seminole and Quebecois heritage, navigates country and legacy that she both espouses and rebuffs, which makes it a perfect horse gift. Blais-Billie’s grandmother introduces her to the rodeo world, an integral part of rez (reservation) culture. Still, influences from her French-Canadian mother and grandparents educated her about the horse’s power in her inner life.

Released August 2021. Available in paperback on Amazon for $14.49

This article about horse books that make a good gift appeared in the November/December 2021 issue of Horse Illustrated magazine. Click here to subscribe!

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